Demystifying DC’s Dockless Bikeshares

Whether you live in DC or are just here to play, there are number of transportation options from catching an uber to jumping on the metro. 

But, what about those short-distance trips that are too long to walk, too short to justify the cost of an uber and just outright inconvenient to metro?

Photo Credit: DC Fray

Dockless bike-share systems have been popping up as a solution in DC over the past decade. Capital Bikeshare came along seven years ago (can you believe that?) and the program has grown to 3,700 bikes and 440 stations across the DC metro area. 

DC is consistently ranked among top biking cities in the country and around five percent of commuters bike. Even with the growth of the Capital Bikeshare there’s still demand for additional capacity and coverage.

That’s where dockless bike-shares come into play.

These bikes meet the needs of those outside convenient walking distance to a docking station and avoid some of the issues related to empty docks in popular destinations (aka all the places you want to go).

So why dockless?

Convenience and accessibility. Their self-lock system allows you the freedom to roam around the city and to park wherever you want. Simply put, this means more bikes, in more places. You also don’t have to worry about searching for an open dock once you’re done riding.

#FrayLife Tip: Make sure to use common sense here people and be careful to avoid parking places like on monuments or the National Mall...you could face fines upwards of $100 per half hour.

What else do I need to know?

Rates are pretty standard across the bikes at $1 per 30 minute trip (exceptions: Jump is $2 per 30 minute trip and Ofo is $1 per hour).

These bikes are good for quick trips, but if you’re intending to use them more frequently (i.e. commuting) you can opt for a monthly or annual plan.

Although user experience may be slightly different from app to app, they all utilize smartphone apps that riders can download to locate and unlock bikes.

There are 5 participating bike share companies - Spin, Limebike, Jump, Mobike and Ofo.

Spin

Photo Credit: Tech Crunch

Spin was started in the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle. They currently operate in 15 cities across the county and on 9 college campuses. And, they recently announced the addition of electric bikes and scooters to their fleet.

Limebike

Photo Credit: Accounting in the Headlines

Limebike claims to be the fastest growing, dockless US-based bike share company. You can’t miss these bright green bikes with yellow accents (and baskets!). The California company has 400 bikes available in DC, ranging from single speed to 3 and 8 speed. They also have electric assist bike and scooter options. The variety of Limebikes makes them overall easy to ride no matter the terrain. Commuter’s looking to avoid traffic can tackle steep inclines with the 8-speed and tourists can cruise around our nation’s capital on single-speed bikes. Tip - you can adjust the seat, but they aren’t great for tall people, so avoid if you are over 6’. Oh and the tires are airless, so they never go flat!

You can typically always find a Limebike in DC’s hip, yet historic Logan Circle neighborhood. Plus there is plenty to do, so hop on your bike and grab a bite to eat at Commissary DC

Jump

Photo Credit: Quartz

All Jump bikes are equipped with pneumatic tires and pedal assist. These bikes boast an electric motor in the front wheel and can go up to 20 mph. Don’t worry - they also have good breaks. There are 100 Jump bikes available across the metro area. The integrated electric motor is perfect for commuters looking to get to work without breaking a sweat.

Mobike

Photo Credit: Twitter

Mobike is based in China and DC is their first pilot city here in the US. They have 400 bikes currently available and you can’t miss the bright orange wheels and baskets. While they do have multi-gears, feedback is that the gear shifting tends to be poor.

Ofo

Photo Credit: EJ Insight

There are also 400 available Ofo bikes. The seat is easy to adjust and gears are easy to shift. The only downfall here is the shallow basket - so be careful you don’t lose anything.

Have you tried out any of these dockless bikes? If so, let us know your favorite and why!

Looking for other fun and active transportation options for getting around DC? Learn more about new scooters and more.

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